Shocked by the rejection of Colombia’s historic peace deal, Martha Llano has adjusted her understanding of war—and renewed her hopes for peace.
“Those who aimed to sign this agreement were willing a white dove to fly over our country.”
Have I dreamed it? Is it true? My head was spinning. I knew I had to get up, but I almost could not bring myself to leave my hammock. I did not want to move; it felt nearly impossible to move. My body ached; my spirit hurt.
On October 2, my country voted against a referendum to end a war that has waged for 52 years. The historic peace deal would not move forward based on the vote of my country’s citizens.
I faced the day ahead of me with confusion and feelings I can barely describe. I felt the unrest of knowing that I am to continue to live in a country at war—a country where inequity is a constant.
I knelt down beside my dogs and cried as I tried to process my anguish. They looked back at me, and I knew they understood my pain. In silence, I took them to the forest. Barefoot, I lay down by the side of the giant trees that have withstood everything—years of war, of cruelty. I looked up at the great foliage and I finally found the word I needed: Resilience.
I embraced the trees, and I embraced my “yes” vote, my vote for peace. I know that we arrived at war due to mistakes. A lot of mistakes. And during the war, we committed even more mistakes. While coming out of war, there is the risk of new mistakes being made.
To be honest, I did not expect this outcome. I could not have even imagined it. Those who were championing peace had for years made war their business. Those who aimed to sign this agreement were willing a white dove to fly over our country.
I took a deep breath and cried. I cried for a very long time. But I also felt thankful. Why? I felt I had answers. Before the vote, it was FARC against all of us; now, it is everyone against everyone. Fathers against their own children; children against their mothers; mothers against their friends; friends against friends; mothers against mothers; fathers against fathers…
I am thankful because I finally understand that this war is not just because of guerillas. It is because of all of us. Inside, we have so much pain and anguish and fear and heartbreak. This vote surfaced this, and now we know.
The white dove is injured. We are all injured, and we are suffering. But I believe that some day my country will see peace. One day, I will see parents embracing their children in the rainforest without fear. Children will go to school without the threat of landmines waiting for them on their way. Ex-guerillas will live within our communities without fear, and we will not fear them.
There are those in my country who can barely read or write, but who know how to carry a gun. I want them to carry a pencil and paint to color their lives with light and happiness. I want them to be able to write a new history, to find peace in their hearts. We are all human beings, and I have forgiven them.
With tears in my eyes, I am thankful. And I wish for peace. I long for all Colombians to see the beauty of a precious white dove flying above.